It's business as usual after officials close St. Cloud bridgeby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Cloud, Minn. — With light snow falling early in the morning, it was business as usual for many shops and restaurants along the Highway 23 Bridge detour route.
Lacie Gerads at Hourglass Cleaners said it was too early to tell how the closure could affect customers.
The dry cleaner is located just blocks from the closed bridge. Gerads said she thinks the store will do well, despite the closure, because many of the customers come in on their way to and from work downtown.
"One of our customers said that the bridge made it a little more difficult for him to make it in here, but he can still make it in so I know our good customers, our loyal customers will still make it in," said Gerads.
State transportation officials closed the four-lane bridge yesterday after inspectors found four bowed gusset plates. The plates hold the bridge girders together. Gusset plates are thought to be a factor in last summer's I-35W bridge collapse.
Immediately after the shutdown, MnDot officials began diverting traffic to nearby river crossings.
The main detour carries traffic to a river crossing just three blocks to the north. Officials predicted that drivers would take the detours in stride.
Green Mill Restaurant Manager Ryan Dale agrees. He said people in the area are used to detours after last summer, when nearby Veterans Bridge was widened to four lanes.
He said the detour could actually bring more customers into the restaurant.
"If anything, I think it will bring more attention to our restaurant here because some people that usually wouldn't have driven past the Kelly Inn and Green Mill Restaurant here, now they are forced to."
Dale said it's too soon to know how the detours could affect delivery service.
Big Apple Bagel is located along the detour route between the Highway 23 and Veterans Bridges. Staffer Emma Berglund said she was surprised by how busy they were today.
"Actually, it's been busy up until 15 minutes ago, non-stop since 5 this morning. Usually it's not that busy at all. i don't think we'll lose business. I think business will be either the same or go up because people will want to come towards this part of town more."
It's not clear when the bridge will reopen. Officials are working to determine whether it can be repaired. If not, MnDot said it will have to be replaced.
- All Things Considered, 03/21/2008, 5:25 p.m.